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The Psychology of Interpersonal Forgiveness: A Developmental Journey from Hurting to Healing and Hope Dr. Preston VanLoon Iowa Association of Alternative.

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Presentation on theme: "The Psychology of Interpersonal Forgiveness: A Developmental Journey from Hurting to Healing and Hope Dr. Preston VanLoon Iowa Association of Alternative."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Psychology of Interpersonal Forgiveness: A Developmental Journey from Hurting to Healing and Hope Dr. Preston VanLoon Iowa Association of Alternative Education State Conference Des Moines, IA April 8, 2010

2 If we practice an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, soon the whole world will be blind and toothless. Mahatma Gandhi

3 If you cannot free people from their wrongs and see them as the needy people they are, then you enslave yourself to your own painful past. By fastening yourself to the past, you let your hate become your future. Lewis Smedes, Forgive and Forget

4 Interpersonal Forgiveness follows a deep, long-lasting injury from another person that may be: Emotional Relational Physical Moral

5 What are some ways that adolescents experience hurt and pain in their lives?

6 The Effects of Hurt and Pain in Adolescents: Behavioral/Emotional Difficulties Emotional Problems Poor Grades Decrease in Self Esteem Sexual Promiscuity

7 Effects of hurt and pain continued: Problems making friends Parental Conflict Suicidal Thoughts Withdrawal Change in mood/attitude

8 What are some things that adolescents do to cope with their hurt and pain?

9 The injury or offense affects us: Cognitively Emotionally Behaviorally

10 Definitions of Forgiveness: What does forgiveness mean to you? There are many misconceptions about forgiveness and it is often misunderstood.

11 Interpersonal Forgiveness Defined: Forgiving is choosing to pursue healing and overcome the painful emotions, thoughts, and actions associated with an unjust offense and replace them with hope for ones future through the practice of compassion, mercy, and the desire to wish ones offender well.

12 Research-The Benefits of Forgiveness: Decrease in depression Decrease in anxiety Decrease in displacement of anger Decrease in use of defense mechanisms Prevention of escalation of revenge Improved intrapersonal peace

13 Benefits of Forgiveness continued: Improved interpersonal relationships Improved affect Improved self-esteem Reduction in stress symptoms Lower blood pressure Reduction in insomnia Less digestive problems

14 What are some reasons that people give, or teens in particular, for not wanting to forgive?

15 Reasons for Forgiveness Forgiveness allows us to relieve ourselves of the debilitating effects of chronic anger and resentment. Forgiveness is being fair to yourself and the wrong suffered, its pain and revenge are unfair. Forgiveness allows us to move beyond our past wounds and see life from a new perspective.

16 Forgiveness offers the possibility of healing and reconciliation, bringing new life, not death, to a relationship. Forgiveness gives us the freedom to deal with our wrong realistically and bring healing to our hurts. Forgiveness is for people who are human, who not only need to forgive, but also need to be forgiven. Forgiveness allows us to transform the energy invested in our pain and hurt to bring healing to our memory and hope to our future.

17 Common Myths and Misconceptions: 1.Forgiveness means forgetting the offense never happened and going back the way things were before. 2. Forgiveness is a sign of weakness and vulnerability. 3.Forgiveness doesnt make things fair to others or ourselves.

18 4.Forgiveness is only needed for those we care for, can see, or those who want to be forgiven. 5.Forgiveness happens quickly and easily. 6.Forgiveness is our duty and responsibility as human beings. 7.Forgiveness means putting up with or excusing inappropriate behavior.

19 Forgiveness & Developmental Changes Movement toward improved cognition, affect, and behavior. Learning about and practicing forgiveness helps develop the ability to forgive. Changes from feelings of hate and resentment to compassion and love. A desire to learn and practice forgiveness.

20 What Interpersonal Forgiveness is Not: Pardon Reconciliation Condoning and/or Excusing Justification

21 Forgiveness is Not, continued: Forgetting Allowing emotions to diminish over time Just saying I forgive you Synonymous with mourning A one time decision

22 The Forgiveness Process… Takes time, often continuing throughout life. Takes work and is not easy. Is an active process, not passive Is internal with external manifestations Is an ongoing process Is intentional Requires a change in attitude

23 Suggestions to Help Teens Forgive: 1.Identify the hurt that was experienced. 2.Discuss the hurt and the effect it has had on ones life. 3.Express the painful feelings associated with the hurt. 4.Discuss how one has tried to cope with the hurt and pain.

24 Suggestions continued: 5. Explore alternatives and make a commitment to pursue forgiveness. 6. Do the work of forgiveness: reframing, empathy, compassion, and acceptance. 7. Look for meaning and purpose in life as a result of the offense. 8. Realize that self has needed forgiveness in the past also.

25 Forgiveness is loves antidote for hate, beginning with passive hate, the loss of energy to wish people well…you will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well. Lewis Smedes, Forgive and Forget

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